March 11, 2020

5 leadership skills in times of crisis

Personal leadership starts with emotional intelligence to help understand and manage reactions

Our world is in the midst of many changes. Even as we entered 2020, we faced many issues we didn’t expect to happen. Our world will continue to change and we will continue to face challenges of different magnitudes in the future.

Crises come in different forms. We are able to predict some of them, such as those that are industry-related, while some are unpredictable, such as natural disasters. As human beings, our natural inclination is to react to these changes and prepare ourselves. It is part of the “fight or flight” response to things happening around us.

Many of us have been preparing ourselves and our families by taking protective measures to stay safe and healthy. How can we can extend this mindset to our workplace? For one, we can make sure to pay attention to any company announcements and procedures. But as individuals, what more can we do for ourselves and the company? The answer lies in leadership.

In a previous article, we touched on leadership and how a person doesn’t necessarily need to be in a leadership position to build and show leadership skills. In times of crisis, many organisations face critical problems. Our careers and our lives take a drastic turn. As individuals, we must also be able to lead ourselves in preparation to face new challenges.

With all this in mind, here are some leadership skills to develop that can aid us in times of crisis.

Emotional intelligence

This skill is very useful in our day-to-day work. But emotional intelligence is even more important for managing a crisis, for many reasons. First, it helps us manage our panic and reactions. Second, it helps us understand others and help them calm their panic.

Emotional intelligence builds a foundation for other skills as it starts in our mindsets, as we will see when we examine how to develop and use other skills.

Awareness

This refers to both self-awareness and situational awareness. Self-awareness begins with understanding ourselves and how we react to the people and things around us. This ties in with emotional intelligence as we need to be aware of our own feelings and emotions in times of crisis. While being aware of your own self during crisis is important, we also need to be aware of the situation around us to react appropriately.

Awareness in general sounds simple, and it is something we already do naturally, but oftentimes we aren’t really aware of ourselves or our surroundings. The key to self-awareness is to practise self-reflection and understand ourselves and how we react in certain situations.

Strategy and planning

One of the many skills great leaders have is the ability to create a good plan and stick with it. Of course, we cannot always predict changes that may come and therefore cannot plan for everything. But having a basic plan for how to deal with different problems can help us gather our thoughts better and avoid panic.

Agility

While planning is important, being able to adapt quickly is more critical. To be agile, we must move with speed but also adapt and execute quickly. As crises can come suddenly, agility will help us move with those changes.

Effective communication

Leaders have to effectively communicate problems and possible ways to fix them to their teams. But for individuals, effective communication is also important to ensure you are interacting effectively with your fellow teammates.

Here again, emotional intelligence comes into play. Our tendency to panic in the face of uncertainty or the unexpected is heightened when we face a crisis. Because of this, we might not be able to communicate with others properly and this can cause more panic and more problems.

We understand that changes and crises will continue to emerge from time to time. As human beings, we naturally react to these scenarios but how we react matters a lot. We can apply leadership skills that help us understand how we react, and then control those reactions in ways that allow us to solve problems and take as much control of the situation as we can.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com. Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at https://www.yournextu.com